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Touch Of Evil



Touch Of Evil (1958)

Henry Mancini 

Released in:

Often hailed as Mancini's masterpiece - Who am I to argue?
filmfactsman (June 10, 2005)
The superb soundtrack to Orson Welles classic cult noir-thriller from 1958. It was his first major soundtrack and features a smorgasbord of styles including smoky Tijuana jazz jive, Afro-Cuban percussion and honky-tonk instrumental jump blues all with a strong rock'n'roll influence. All the tracks here were used as what's known in the movie industry as "source music", which means that the music comes from a visible source such as a jukebox, a radio an orchestra or piano player. Using the music in this way contributed to the realities of Welles locations and provided an unsettling contrast to the vicious characters and action taking place in the seedy town that the movie was set.

The film "Touch Of Evil" is a noir classic, packed with a stellar cast (Charlton Heston, Janet Leigh, Orson Welles, Marlene Dietrich, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Weaver, Akim Tamiroff), classic Wellesian camera flourishes, and a storyline as tense and taut as best noir films. It was essential, therefore, that the accompanying score to this masterwork not only compliment the action, but actually become part of the film itself. Indeed, Welles and Mancini inserted the music into the plot of the film by having the majority of the score eminate from a screen source, be it a jukebox, a loudspeaker, or a cheap radio. Welles knew the value of music in film, and decided that the music for this film would be different. "What we want is musical color," said Welles, "rather than movement - sustained washes of sound rather than tempestuous , melodramatic, or operatic style of scoring."

Mancini delivered and then some. Whether in the insanely good title track (as good title music as anything ever delivered on the screen), the bongo-powered "The Boss," the bluesy jazz of "Reflection," the rock-n-roll fueled "Strollin' Blues," "Orson Around," "Rock Me To Sleep," "The Big Drag," and others, or even the piano-roll anachronism that is "Tana's Theme," the music is uniformly strong and able to stand on its own merits away from the confines of 24 frames per second - an astounding feat considering the constraints given to Mancini by the director.

Undoubtedly, it ranks with "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "Two for the Road" as the best film score ever composed by Mancini. Every self-respecting soundtrack lover or lounge lizard MUST have this CD in their CD collection.

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